Attention all fancy doggos, pooches, puppers, pupperoni pizzas and floofs: get ready for an awkward get-together with your estranged, meowier cousins. The weather forecast for this weekend in New York City indicates a 100 percent chance of raining cats and dogs, because the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has announced that for the first time in 140 years, they will be including cats in their annual, dog-centric event. The feline participants will not take part in the same programs as their canine friends. But the fact remains that there will be dogs and cats rubbing shoulders under the same roof. There are so many burning questions to address–are we indeed approaching the end times? Will Westminster 2017 be the next sign of our apocalyptic undoing? Or will the Westminster show play out like a live-action remake of Zootopia, demonstrating that species can overcome their differences to work together in harmony? And finally, who let the dogs out? Who? Who? Who? Who? The eyes of the world will be anxiously focused on Madison Square Garden this month, as we forget about our human prejudices for about three seconds in order to see if these trained animals can put aside theirs.
As one might expect, this change in programming has ignited a lot of controversy on social media. One Twitter user wrote, “Is nothing sacred anymore?!?! This makes no sense!!! But it’ll probably be super cute.” This kind of ambivalence is common. Many people must reconcile their shock regarding this unlikely pairing with the universal truth that puppies and kitties are both worthy of millions of YouTube views. But not everyone is so excited to make room on the show floor for furballs. Another Tweeter, identifying by the handle (at) SnoopDogg, asked, “Westminster Dog Show is allowing cats? What will they be graded on, which cat can ignore their handler the longest?”
To answer your question, (at) SnoopDogg, the cats will not be judged, because they will not trot around the show floor with the dogs in the main pageant. If anything, it will actually be the cats that are judgmentally glaring at the humans around them. Instead, the kitty contestants will be taking part in a non-competitive event called “Meet the Breeds,” in which cats and dogs just sit there in booths as touchy-feely humans walk around and give them involuntary massages. One can only imagine the disgruntled, Garfield-esque inner monologue that could be going through the feline mind as a Westminster cat observes its surroundings.
The “Meet the Breeds” event will also feature its own agility contest. If all goes as planned, this will entail cats zooming through hoops, tunnels and other obstacles to achieve the best time. But here’s where one of the major differences between dogs and cats comes into play. Unlike the agility contests for dogs, this one will allow the trainers to dangle a mouse-like toy for the competitors to chase through the course, because the cats need to be tricked into thinking that they’re hunting in order to willingly take part in such a silly, useless game constructed by humans. Dogs will happily run over a see-saw simply because they want to please their owner and have fun. Cats, on the other paw, are fiercely independent. They answer to nobody, until somebody offers them food. Though dogs have been designated as our best friend, there are certain personality traits of both pets that we all can relate to, whether you’re a cat person, a dog person, a both person or a neither person. The 2017 Westminster “Dog” Show should go rather smoothly. It’ll be a grand celebration of the pets we love–but mostly the fancy, weird looking ones.